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5 Ways to Green Your Rental
I don’t know about you, but with iffy job security these days and foreclosures predicted to be even worse this year, I feel lucky to be a renter without the pressures of a mortgage looming overhead. But going green in a home belonging to someone else takes a special sort of commitment that has nothing to do with solar panels and expensive HVAC renovations. In fact, the thinner your wad, the more creative and hands-on you must get.
The road to eco-outfitting your rental is paved with a million options. Apart, each action you take may seem negligible — like a single leaf — but when combined, they will create a branch extending to all aspects of your life — not to mention your family, your property owner, and the planet. Here are five ways to get you on the road to a gentle rental.
- As renters, we must first pledge to heckle our landlords into green-minded lording over our residences. Chances are you won’t get them to install geothermal heating, but when replacements are needed, make yourself heard. For instance, insist on ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. When they complain of cost, send them here to see what kinds of deals — such as sales tax exemptions, credits, rebates and recycling incentives — are happening in your area. If they pay your utilities, they will be much easier swayed.
- Keep chemicals from polluting your indoor air. When furnishing, you can get double your pleasure by going vintage; not only are you salvaging a beautiful piece (or it will be when you’re done with it!), but the off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) has likely already occurred.
- Ditch the dirty bulbs (but dispose of them properly). While the CFLs so often touted are better than traditional incandescents (and we’re definitely not knocking them), LEDs are by far the best energy savers — illuminating considerably longer without the use of mercury. If you like to be ahead, they are the bulb of the future.
- Conduct an assessment of your air leaks, as they can account for 20-30 percent of your home's energy loss. Consult this Do-It-Yourself Guide for detailed instructions on how to locate, then seal and insulate (easier than it sounds, I promise).
Also, be sure to clean your air filters on a regular basis: The dirtier the filter, the more expensive the bill. And clear all furniture from your vents so your system can do its job without obstructions.